New to hatching- give me some advice....

Discussion in 'Incubating & Hatching Eggs' started by clairabean, Dec 13, 2010.

  1. clairabean

    clairabean Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 7, 2010
    Kootenays of BC!
    Ok, obviously I am a newbie at this. Short story, a broody hen, five eggs due to hatch on Christms, eager kids. The hen is out with my other 11 hens (and 1 roo). I can leave the chicks in the coop with Mama and the rest, right? Do I need to seperate? And how do I feed them chick starter, when the rest of the flock gets laying pellets?

    I am off to candle the eggs this morning... Mama is a sweet, gentle hen. I am hoping she doesn't get bullied.
     
  2. saladin

    saladin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It is always best to have the hen and her chicks separate. This should have been done when she first started sitting; to late for that now.

    Everything may be fine, but often the other hens and the cock will eat the young chicks.
     
  3. HHandbasket

    HHandbasket The Chickeneer

    Quote:How do people who hatch their chicks naturally, without incubators and brooders, ever get any chicks, and how does the species reproduce without human interference, if the other chooks in the flock will eat young chicks? Just curious, as we are looking at bators now and debating the pros and cons of hatching some of our own eggs in the spring. We've discussed the pros and cons of letting a broody hen do all the work vs. using mechanical means and human intervention (the latter is never my first choice, but it may be best if the other chickens will eat the babies). I see people all the time with large flocks and the hens with her babies are running around, intermixed in the flock, and have never heard of other flockmates eating chicks until now! Eww, that's gotta be an ugly sight to see! I didn't even realize that was a potential issue... I may decide not to hatch my own after all. Thank you for enlightening us about that... yuck! I had no idea.

    I think I'm gonna tell DH that hatching's out. I'd rather use natural means over man-made/artificial, but I'd rather not run the risk of the other flockmates eating the babies.
     
  4. saladin

    saladin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    First, the domesticated chicken is far removed from the true wild jungle fowl.
    Second, lots of wild animals also eat their young and yet they continue to survive.
    Third, it depends on the breed or breeds you are dealing with as to whether this will be a problem. It can even vary within the same breed and flock to flock.

    To our scruples it sounds 'yuck,' but these are animals and scruples don't exist as you and I understand them.

    I was just mentioning it as a potential problem.

    All the breeders I know isolate the hens that are setting in their own separate pens with no cocks present.

    My chickens would eat chicks not their own; they have and will again. I just figured the chicks must look like mice to them because they love mice! lol.
     
  5. HHandbasket

    HHandbasket The Chickeneer

    I have learned SO much from this forum, it's just amazing! [​IMG] There are a lot of really knowledged/experienced folks here & thank you for sharing what you know.

    To the OP: Good luck with your hatch, and please do keep us posted as to how it goes. A Christmas hatch would be very exciting! I'm so glad for you.

    To Saladin: I know whatcha mean... my chooks love mice, too! My cats are so generous, they sometimes will kill mice & leave the carcasses outside the run door for the chooks to find. In regards to the chicks, though, that's really good to know. I would have been, like, utterly shocked if I had seen that. Knowledge is power. Thank you for the heads up! [​IMG]
     
  6. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    [​IMG]
    Carl was very protective when Buffy BO brought out my very first GrandChick, Samantha. Buffy brooded her clutch in the A-frame coop, where nobody "lives.". She didn't bring that chick out for 9 days.

    Shirley Welsummer brooded her clutch in the covered cat litter box nest I put in the main coop. She didn't bring out her chicks until they were nearly a week old.

    Both moms were very fierce, and Carl checked in to play protector quite a bit of the time.

    Other than that, I didn't segregate either broody hens and their chicks.
     
  7. LaurenM23

    LaurenM23 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    While I have never had the pleasure of hatching with a broody, it is my understanding that separating the broody and her clutch is more a "traffic control" issue than safety related. Linda has shown a couple of great examples where a broody selected her spot in an "away" place, clear from other birds, choosing to bring out her little ones when the timing felt right.

    For those who do not have a large variety of spaces for nesting to occur, often the broody will take up in the sole coop. If she is particularly easy going, she might be prone to being bullied off of the nest, allowing the eggs (or chicks) or get trampled...or eaten, evidently. While moving her shouldn't really be attempted this late in the game (you could throw her off completely and lose them all), there are methods to separate her that might help in a protective fashion.

    Is the broody in a nesting box? You could set up a temporary pen of sorts, building a bit of an enclosure around her (even just closing off the nesting box, or putting a small wire "fence" around her). If you are able, you could even put wire up to split your coop in half. The key is to give her enough room to get up and move around a little, along with a separate food and water source. Letting the others see the chicks may make them more accepting of them, unlike sticking brand new chicks in with an adult group. Once the chicks are hatched, you could increase the space for them some and perhaps remove the barrier after the first week.

    Good luck![​IMG]
     
  8. saladin

    saladin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    On my place it has nothing to do with 'traffic' and everything to do with survival of the chicks! lol.
     
  9. speedy2020

    speedy2020 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just keep the mom and chicks together for a about 10-15 days. You let them roam together with the main block after that. It works best if you have large run or free range.
     
  10. saladin

    saladin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    When I let a hen hatch her chicks I keep them separated for at least 3 to 4 weeks before turning them out to free-range on the farm.

    It always helps if the chicks can fly some because of predators.

    If you have hawk or owl problems then they need to be even older or they will not survive!!!

    All our Muscovy ducks are free-range (all 100 of them). This fall the hawks came and even though Muscovies are the best of mothers, we lost something like 55 ducklings before it was all said and done.
     
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2010

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